Tuesday, July 15, 2008

A Viler Shade of Pink

I am still waiting for someone to identify my Mystery 45, the instrumental tracks that lost their label before I learned to read. As of today, I am hoping as well that someone knows how in the world this week’s songs got released on a major label.

As in the case of Michael Allen last week, this artist has an all-too-common name, the Baby Dolls. And their song, “Quiet!” is a common word, in case you haven’t noticed. When I narrow down the search, all I find are a handful of copies of the single for sale, no bios, no history at all.

This 45 has a number of quirks that set it apart from all others I own. It is the only 45 I have where both song titles end with an exclamation point! It is most likely the only 45 I own where both sides clock in at under two minutes. And it is the only label to sport a particularly hideous shade of flat pink.

What I do know is that this project (Warner Brothers 5086) owes a lot to Robert Hemric and George James Kay, because they wrote both songs. Someone named Mullins joined them on “Quiet!” But while the title of Saturday’s song is listed on the ASCAP site, “Quiet!” isn’t, and neither song is cross-referenced to the composers’ names. So they don’t seem to have distinguished themselves as lasting songwriters.

The premise of “Quiet!” is that some teenage girls are gathered together for a pajama party, and they are discussing in whispers the . . . positive features of a certain young man. They get louder as they go, until finally they break into a giddy cacophony that predates the screams of the fans at Beatles’ concerts. And then, Dad yells, “Quiet!” So they get quiet, only to do it all over again. And again.

The song seems to be a 1961 release, so it has to include such teen words as “ginchy,” and Dad is referred to as “square.” I suppose there is a very period-piece charm to the setup of the tune, but it reminds me of a concentrated dose of the American International “Beach Party” flicks. I guess getting it over with in two minutes beats 100 minutes of cinematic bikini splendor.

The song does sound as if it could have fit into the pajama party in Pajama Party, but—hey, wait: a lot of the songs for the “Beach Party” films were written by Guy Hemric. How many Hemrics are there who write songs for giggly teenage girls to sing?

I can’t pin it down. But based on his 321 titles listed with BMI, many co-written with Jerry Styner and featuring energetic teens, the association between Hemric and Hemric is strong. Of course, this pair also wrote “Psychedelic Rape,” which was then published by Mike Curb, that bastion of musical morals. Sigh.

It probably suits the situation that the label is a film subsidiary. “Quiet!” was recorded in Vitaphonic High Fidelity, which, one assumes, only film studios can provide to music-hungry teens. Well, good for them.

But the label, using the WB logo that I always loved when I was watching Bugs Bunny cartoons, is the most gag-inspiring shade of Pepto-Bismol® pink I could ever imagine. All of my other WB labels were red, with blue, green and red arrows pointing out of the hole. Maybe the label used this pink to indicate that it was a single for girls. But only the type of girl who was likely to be named Muffy or Buffy and not be ashamed of it.

I saw that pink in one other place: my cousin Lois’s toy collection.

Lois didn’t have a “toy collection” by the time I knew her; she was at least ten when I was born. But among the toys she still had was a decent-sized Corvette replica made of plastic. It was that color pink. And it looked a lot like this one:

I know you’re suspicious, so I’ll admit it. I played with Lois’s pink Barbie Corvette. I didn’t know Barbie was its owner. I never saw Barbie associated with the car. But yes, I did play with Barbie’s pink Corvette. When I was three years old.

My, it’s getting late, so I guess it’s time to listen to the song. See you Saturday on the flip side!

Baby Dolls, Quiet!


Anonymous said...

I listened.

And then was happy when the song went...


Yah Shure said...

My, what strong reactions you've had to garish label colors! Was it something in Gary's water supply? Or was that the COLOR of Gary's... uh, never mind. :)

Your Baby Dolls 45 features the original Warner Bros. 45 label design, which also appeared on the label's late '50s hits like "Sixteen Reasons" and "Kookie, Kookie (Lend Me Your Comb)" and into the first part of 1960 ("Cathy's Clown.") By the time Bob Luman's "Let's Think About Living" came out that Fall, it wore the red/colored arrows design which was used until late 1964.

Perhaps the Warner nabobs hoped that people would make that Pepto-Bismol connection with their records, somehow believing that all of that pink would coat the linings of the buyer's ears, thereby making it easier to digest the likes of the Baby Dolls and Jack "Try A Little Tenderness" Webb (WB 5003.)

Had Warners stuck with their original look, 'Music From Big Pink' might have meant something entirely different today. ;)

whiteray said...

Getting it over quickly beats 100 minutes of "ginchy" and "square," but "100 minutes of cinematic bikini splendor" sounds pretty good, you know!